Brene Brown is a well-known and well-respected leader of leaders who has been widely popular for at least a decade now. Her TED talks are among the most viewed and rated and four of her other books are #1 New York Times Bestsellers. This book – Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts – is also, rightfully, a #1 New York Times Bestseller. If you, like me, have loved and been deeply formed by other works of Brown’s then you will find this to be a legitimate culmination of all her previous work. This book is a natural outgrowth of all Brown has done up to this point.
This book has four parts. The parts are stand alone like a chapter, except for the first part which is broken into five sections. There is too much brilliant insight in this book to be able list even a fraction of it here in detail. The themes of empathy, guilt, courage, and vulnerability – well-known themes of Brene Brown for anyone familiar with her other work – are prominent in these pages. A few highlights of mine from the book are given here as a small taste of the wisdom and insight Brown offers:
- “Vulnerability minus boundaries is not vulnerability. It’s confession, manipulation, desperation, or shock and awe, but it’s not vulnerability.” (Pg. 39)
- “Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.” (Pg. 44).
- “Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings, or squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.” (Pg. 67)
- “Don’t do that thing where the listener starts nodding faster and faster, not because they’re actively listening but because they’re trying to unconsciously signal the talker to wrap up so they can talk.” (Pg. 68)
- “Healthy striving is self-focused: how can I improve? Perfectionism is other-focused: what will people think?” (Pg. 79)
- “Numbing or taking the edge off doesn’t have the same consequences as addiction, but they are nonetheless severe and life-altering for one reason: we cannot selectively numb emotion. If we numb the dark, we numb the light. If we take the edge off pain and discomfort, we are, by default, taking the edge off joy, love, belonging, and the other emotions that give meaning to our lives.” (Pg. 85).
- “You can never get enough of what you don’t need.” (Pg. 112)
- “The difference between leading from hurt and leading from heart is not what you’ve experienced or are currently experiencing, it’s what you do with that pain and hurt.” (Pg. 113)
- “Talk to yourself the way you’d talk to someone you love.” (Pg. 158)
- “Shame derives its power from being unspeakable” (Pg. 162)
- “Just because something is accurate or factual doesn’t mean it can’t be used in a destructive manner.” (Pg. 163)
Leaders in any field – business, education, hospitality, retail, politics, church, synagogue, mosque, gurdwara, etc. – would benefit greatly from this book. I strongly recommend it.